STEVE PEOPLES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden clinched the Democratic presidential nomination with decisive victories in Georgia and Mississippi on Tuesday, overcoming concerns about his leadership from within his own party as the 2024 presidential contest shifts to a general election rematch that many voters do not want.

Donald Trump, too, was on pace to secure his party’s nomination despite serious political and practical liabilities of his own. The Republican former president, a defendant in four felony cases, also won Georgia and Mississippi but was just shy of the threshold needed to clinch the GOP nomination with votes still being collected across Washington state and Hawaii.

Overall, Tuesday marked a crystallizing moment for a nation uneasy with its choices in 2024.

There is no longer any doubt that the fall general election will feature a rematch between two flawed and unpopular presidents. And that rematch - the first featuring two U.S. presidents since 1912 - will almost certainly deepen the nation’s searing political and cultural divides over the eight-month grind that lies ahead.

In a statement, Biden celebrated the nomination while casting Trump as a serious threat to democracy.

Trump, Biden said, “is running a campaign of resentment, revenge, and retribution that threatens the very idea of America.”

He continued, “I am honored that the broad coalition of voters representing the rich diversity of the Democratic Party across the country have put their faith in me once again to lead our party - and our country - in a moment when the threat Trump poses is greater than ever.”

On the eve of Tuesday's primaries, Trump acknowledged that Biden would be the Democratic nominee, even as he unleashed a new attack on the president's age.

"I assume he’s going to be the candidate," Trump said of Biden on CNBC. “I’m his only opponent other than life, life itself.”

Despite their tough talk, both Biden and Trump are grappling with glaring flaws.

Trump is facing 91 felony counts in four criminal cases involving his handling of classified documents and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, among other alleged crimes. He’s also facing increasingly pointed questions about his policy plans and relationships with some of the world's most dangerous dictators.

The 81-year-old Biden is working to assure a skeptical electorate that he’s still physically and mentally able to thrive in the world’s most important job.

He’s also dealing with dissension within his party’s progressive base, which is furious that he hasn’t done more to stop Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. Last month in Michigan, a related protest “uncommitted” vote attracted more than 100,000 votes and actually secured two Democratic delegates.

Ahead of Tuesday's vote, a scattering of lawn signs across Seattle urged primary participants to vote “uncommitted" as well, with some signs reading: “Over 30,000 dead. Vote Ceasefire by Tuesday 3/12."

Moments after Bella Rivera, 26, dropped off their ballot at a drop box in Seattle, they said they hoped that by voting “uncommitted” that it would serve as a wakeup call for the Democratic party.

“If you really want our votes, if you want to win this election, you’re going to have to show a little bit more either support of Palestinian liberation - that’s something that’s very important to us - and ceasing funds to Israel,” said Rivera, a preschool teacher who uses they/them pronouns.

Meanwhile, Trump is on pace to win the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination.

He picked up an additional 11 delegates ahead of Tuesday’s primaries when the Texas Republican Party announced it was awarding all of the state's 161 delegates to the former president, based on results from last week's primary. The Texas GOP had been planning to award 11 delegates at the state party convention in May, but national party rules require the delegates to be awarded based on the presidential primary, which Trump won overwhelmingly.

That put Trump just 126 delegates short of the 1,215 needed to win the Republican nomination at the party’s national convention this summer. There are 161 Republican delegates at stake on Tuesday in Georgia, Mississippi, Washington state and Hawaii.

With a strong showing on Tuesday, Trump can sweep all the delegates in Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state. Hawaii allocates delegates proportionally so other candidates could win a few, even with a small share of the vote.

Not certain he will hit the mark, Trump’s campaign has not planned a big victory party like it did last week when hundreds packed his Mar-a-Lago club for a Super Tuesday celebration.

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Associated Press writers Hallie Golden in Seattle, Jeff Amy in Loganville, Georgia, Fatima Hussein in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.